08 June 2011

Household Tasks Small Children Can Do

Hope you're having a beautiful day! This week is flying by quickly, isn't it? I'm thinking chores today. Taking care of home and hearth is a duty of everyone who lives in the home. It's important to teach children at an early age that they should have respect for their home (and other's homes) and some sense of ownership about keeping it clean, organized and pleasant to be in. This will save years of misery later on.

Small children will love anything, any activity IF it means getting to have your complete attention. Show them how, let them help, explain what you are doing. I was blessed to have the idea to get The Little Bug involved very young in helping care for the home. Now she thanks ME when I let her do things. I know this won't always last so I'm reveling it in momentarily.

Here are a few ideas that will allow your children to be more involved in helping around the house:

1. Buy pretty but indestructible plates, bowls and cups -- This allows children to be of more help without worrying about broken dishes and glasses. No this is not as glamorous as beautiful china and stylish glasses, but I think it's up to you to decide which is the greater priority.

2. Rearrange your kitchen cupboards --Put everyday plates, drinking glasses, napkins, salt and pepper, etc.on lower shelves so little kids can easily grab them: e If you ask them if they want to "play restaurant" they will find setting the table the greatest game ever and will soon have it mastered! Moving these things to lower levels also makes it possible for little kids to take these things out of the dishwasher and put them away.

3. Let them help you cook -- This takes a little longer and requires some patience but when you're kids can make their own meals or help cook for the family by the time they are eight or nine years old, you'll be glad you did. Buy them a cool apron, teach them how to measure ingredients and let them wash the insides of big pans in the sink (they love soapy suds). Thanks to working next to my mother and grandmother I was able to do a great deal in the kitchen at a very young age.

4. Make organizing their belongings very easy -- Organized boxes and bins for toys allows kids to clean up after themselves. The Bug does a phenomenal job quickly picking up toys and art supplies because there  is a very simple system to put them away. She's awesome at clean up, much better than I was even when I was older. I still love this post by Stephmodo on toy room organization.

5. Let them help you clean and wash the car -- They are very familiar with the inside of the car and most of the junk that collects in there. They can help pull out junk that has fallen under the seats and help wash lower parts of the car. They will enjoy seeing the car bright and shiny with their help

6. Let them help you make the bed. They can stand on one side and pull up sheets & blankets, gather up pillows etc.

7. Let them help with laundry. You will be amazed what they can do. Taking things from dirty to clean is something frequently dirty, messy little kids can really relate to! I'll break this down more in another post.

8. Grow things and garden with them -- I have no outdoor space except a four foot by ten foot balcony. But now The Bug helps me with two huge tomato plants, basil, rosemary, cilantro, gardenias, sweet peas, two sprouted avocado seeds, a lemon tree and a small sequoia tree. She also is willing to try new foods because she's been exposed to the growing process, farmer's markets and enthusiasm from her dad and I about trying new things.

9. Be consistent and hold your ground - Developing their sense of duty to the home and family requires work on your part. But it will definitely pay off in the end. There is much less complaining and feet dragging when this is established early. They learn it's expected. There are many privileges (favorite stuffed animal, doll or blanket, TV time, friends time, games, bikes, cell phones for older kids, etc.) that can be leveraged with children that make it very worth it for them to quickly act on requests. Anything other than a food, shelter or bed to sleep in are privileges that kids can earn. All I have to say it, "Well I need to get some help or we might not be reading Laura Ingalls tonight" and it's amazing how fast action happens.

So that's my list for today. I'm going to follow up this post with a short list of chores I have found work for three, four and five-year-olds. It's amazing what they can do and how willing they are to help.

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